Pet Therapy: How Pets Help Push Through a Pandemic
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic saw cases in Malaysia shooting up with worrying rapidity. While its widely acknowledged that staying at home plays a major role in containing the spread of the virus, it’s no secret that many do not like being confined at home for an extended period, yet again. Amidst the chaos, most people (whether living alone, with family or with friends) are looking for ways to distract from the monotony by taking up new hobbies and developing new skills. Some, on the other hand, choose to get a pet, or spend more time with their furry pals.
Now you might wonder, while fluffy and adorable, just how much of a distraction can pets be? Here’s the Good News (no pun intended); there are several reasons why a pet can be the premier choice of companion to hunker down with during a pandemic. (Disclaimer: This article is merely a means of highlighting the benefits of owning a pet. It does not in any way, shape, or form encourage running off to avoid society and live solely with pets.)
Let’s go through the rationale…
Reason #1: They help curb loneliness and isolation
There’s no denying that staying at home for extended periods of time, while important for the greater good of society, can leave one feeling somewhat stir-crazy. At times, you may wind up feeling lonely, or isolated, even if you live with a large group of people. Pets provide companionship and entertainment, and fulfill the need to have a reliable and discreet confidante to talk to. A survey by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) in America, showed that a whopping 80% of pet owners agreed that interacting with pets helped them feel less lonely.
Reason #2: They’re fantastic stress busters
Maybe you’ve had a long day of responding to multiple emails, all marked URGENT. Or you’ve been fielding multiple important conference calls, while trying to keep on top of whatever’s going on at home – be it helping out with your family, or numerous chores which keep piling up. Our advice to you would be this: give your pet a hug (or in cases of pets such as fishes, spiders, snakes, etc., take a few minutes of relative calm to sit and observe them). Spending time with your pet is guaranteed to reduce any lingering stress, tension, and/ or anxiety from a long day of balancing work and home. Why? Because your pet does not demand much (except possibly at meal times). All they want is to spend time with you, no strings attached.
Reason #3: Unwavering love and affection with no reservations
Those of you who already own a pet may be familiar with this feeling: you’ve had an extremely unpleasant day, and there seems to be no one you can vent to without receiving worn out euphemisms and catchphrases meant to either ‘encourage’ you or to tell you to ‘deal with it’. So, you turn to your stalwart sidekick, your furry friend, your perfect pal – your pet. After all, your pet can’t exactly talk – which means they’ll almost certainly allow you to vent/ yell/ cry in peace, after which they will proceed to do what they do best – stand by you and provide unconditional love and support, and much needed fluffy snuggles (or supportive backflips, possibly, for fishes).
Reason #4: Help improve fitness levels and productivity
Yes, it’s true – pets are surprisingly good fitness buddies (especially if you’re an owner of large and/ or active pets). Maybe the pandemic felt like a good time to finally catch up on that pending backlog of work you’ve been putting off because you “didn’t have enough time”. Or maybe you wound up, intentionally or not, turning into a couch potato, as you finally got some time to rest. However, remaining glued to your desk crunching reports or lazing around on the sofa and not doing much else, i.e. swinging between two different extremes, will most certainly NOT do you any favours. Pets provide the perfect distraction – playing with them serves as the ideal breakaway method for you to get moving. Spending time with your pet serves to boost the production of ‘feel-good’ chemicals, such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine in your system. Even tossing a ball or taking a brisk walk around the living room with them works – as long as there’s some activity, you’re happy, your pet’s happy and, added bonus, your quality of work and fitness levels both get a boost!
By the end of this article, some of you may be thinking, “Well, this is all very warm and fuzzy reading, but I don’t have a pet!” No worries: most pet owners are happy to share cute pictures or videos of their pets being adorable for your viewing pleasure. If you’d like a less vicarious method of enjoying a pet’s company during this pandemic,an alternative option would be to start caring for stray animals in your area – maybe leave out some food and water for stray cats and dogs, or some breadcrumbs or rice for the pigeons and mynah birds around your house. You don’t need to keep pets at home to take care of them; volunteering at an animal shelter is just as good! And now, more than ever, animal shelters need our help.
The FurryKids Safehaven animal shelter was severely affected by a flash flood on the 3rdNovember 2020, instantly displacing the animals,destroying their homes. Funds are being raised to assist with efforts to rebuild following this catastrophe- and you can help! Check out giveback.my to see how you can contribute to FurryKids Safehaven. Stay safe and be kind folks!